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The Haunting (1999)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks Reissue)
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3.8
 / 10
16 votes
Movie Connections:
The Haunting
> The Haunting (1963)
> The Haunting (1999)
Genres:
Ensemble Film, Haunted House Film, Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Jan de Bont Jan de Bont
Starring:
Liam Neeson Liam Neeson
Catherine Zeta-Jones Catherine Zeta-Jones
Owen Wilson Owen Wilson
Lili Taylor Lili Taylor
Bruce Dern Bruce Dern
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Review by Chad
Added: June 06, 2004
Dr. David Marrow is doing experiments on fear, to see why humans still have the sense of fear after evolution has already made it unnecessary to still be around. His grand testing ground will consist of getting three insomniacs together under the guise of doing research on sleep, when in actuality, he's trying to scare them and do research on that. He picks out his three people, sends them to an old mansion and tells them the story of old man Crain, and how he built this house for all the kids he could never have. Theo, the bravest of the bunch, brushes everything off and jokes around about everything, while Eleanor is taking things quite seriously after seeing all sorts of ghostly things. Luke, on the other hand, wonders why everyone was brought here, and starts to get suspicious of Dr. Marrows true intentions. After it's discovered that the house really is haunted and it's not just Marrow trying to scare them anymore, they must find out what's really going on, and what really happened in this house one hundred and thirty years ago.

I've never seen the 1963 movie of the same title that this is a remake of, so I couldn't really do any comparing to the original; however, if it's anything like this one, I do believe I'd pass on checking that one out. The only thing that this film had going for it was some great special effects, and even those started to get over-used by the halfway mark of the film. For example, I do believe the whole "ghost figure behind a curtain / sheet / blanket" effect was used no less than ten times throughout the duration of the film, while the morphing walls and ceilings effect wasn't used much less.

Over on the storyline side of things, the basic premise here is good; however, with all the plot twists and major points to the movie, it just goes to shit. Putting a couple of people into a haunted house, watching the results, finding out it really is haunted... that could make for a pretty nice film. But throwing in a lame back-story, some stuff about kids dying off over a century ago, and an old man... well, that's just getting silly with things. However, even this could have been saved had the cast been just a wee bit better with their parts. Lili Taylor, the woman who played Eleanor (which was the lead role), just flat out sucked. She went from two expressions throughout the film: normal tone of voice, and a louder version of that normal tone of voice. No emotion, no acting skills, just a load of ass in all her scenes. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Theo) wasn't a whole lot better with her role, either. No matter how hot that lady may be, she just ruined what was left to be ruined of the scenes after Lili did her damage. Finally, we come to Owen Wilson as Luke. He was the best of the bunch, which isn't saying a whole lot... but even so, he's used as nothing more than comedic relief and ghost-fodder. Sadness abounds.

With all that said, at least they could have made some good scares with that gazillion dollar budget they had. No sir, not to be found here... unless ghostly children's images behind curtains or walls that look as though they're moving like in a bad acid-trip scare the bejesus out of you. Throw in some chilling <sarcasm> footsteps, and that would be it for any potential scares. Really, the only saving grace I found in this movie was the one and only death scene, which I won't ruin in case someone out there still wants to view this.

Absolutely dreadful, and at a few minutes shy of two hours, painfully hard to sit through. 1/10.
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Ginose #1: Ginose - added 12/20/2006, 11:58 PM
Did I ever mention that remakes (shitty ones in paticular) are the true sign of a faltering cinematic world? No? It is. 0/10
Tom Moore #2: Tom Moore - added 08/24/2009, 05:50 PM
This movie should burned to ashes, and the ashes strewn with salt.
385 #3: 385 - added 03/15/2011, 01:20 AM
Ugh, subtlety is a foreign word to these people. Lili Taylor had a new age Jamie Lee Curtis thing going in the first half, which along with Marian Seldes' small role, are the only things I liked. The recreated scenes were especially horrible after seeing how well the first movie did them. I did smile at the stone lions on the mantle though.
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